Wezesha Tanzania

Mission | June 19, 2017

Editor’s note: Leslie Klipsch of Empower Tanzania and Ann McGlynn of St. Paul will lead a journey to Tanzania, Empowering Women: An immersion trip to Africa, from approximately April 29-May 10, 2018. The itinerary will include visits to a water project, a gender-based violence initiative, a village health clinic, and a club for the area’s most vulnerable children and families. In the evening, time will be devoted to conversation and contemplation. The guiding principles of this time away will be simple: to be with the people of the area, learn about their lives, and be inspired by their work. The cost will be approximately $4,000-$4,300, including a safari. It is limited to 10 people.

An introductory meeting will be held on Thursday, Aug. 10, 7 p.m., at St. Paul. Additional gatherings will be held on evenings in October, January, and March. These times will focus on logistics, learning, and community building.

When Efra Nzota interviewed for a job with Empower Tanzania, she told the interviewers that she was one of five girls in her family. She always had the idea that her father was disappointed he had no sons.

“She then set a determined look on her face and in a firm voice said her personal goal was to show him that girls can accomplish just as much as boys,” said Jeff Carithers, MD, who is a volunteer program manager with Empower Tanzania. “She spoke passionately about gender and gender-based violence and her desire to help these victims. To be clear, most Tanzanian women have a demure, almost shy character, speak softly and even seem to avoid eye contact. I clearly remember a strong feeling at the time that this was to be our new employee.”

Efra had recently completed her bachelor’s degree when Empower Tanzania announced that job position. “I can do this,” she said to herself. 

Today, Efra manages three programs for the non-governmental organization that works in rural areas of the country – the Improving Women’s Health program, the Beyond Gender-Based Violence program, and the Community-Hospital Alliance.

“There is no greater joy than seeing women change and adopt new knowledge on how to take good care of their families, have a healthy life, and be empowered,” Efra said. “In Africa in general, everything is scarce – water, food, health facilities, schools. But when women are provided with just simple health knowledge like hand-washing, using safe and clean water, and nutrition, they take that education to their children and their families. This is a greater way of building an educated generation in the future.”

Empower Tanzania is nearly a decade into its work in a rural area of the country, focused on women’s health, gender-based violence, clean water, farming practices, and the education of vulnerable children. Its roots are in Iowa and the Same District of Tanzania, where relationships with churches and nonprofits began with the idea of caring for people dying of AIDS. A few grants helped get things off the ground. Two people who have been involved since the beginning include Todd and Lori Byerly, who lived in Tanzania for five years. Todd now serves as St. Paul’s director of Empower Tanzania works in a rural area of the country, focused on women’s health, gender-based violence, clean water, farming practices, and the education of vulnerable children operations and is the board president of Empower Tanzania.

St. Paul’s Mission Board added two organizations to the congregation’s benevolence this year. Empower Tanzania will receive $2,000.

Phil Latessa, who lives in central Iowa, is also on that list of people from the beginning. After years of working as an administrator for private and government organizations in Iowa, Phil serves as the executive director of Empower Tanzania. “When you see what came from where we started…” Phil said, “we’re making a difference.”

Empower Tanzania has trained a bevy of local well mechanics and has repaired and dug wells so that women and children do not need to walk miles for water. They are working with farmers to strengthen farming practices to withstand times of difficult climate. They have education centers that focus on the most vulnerable children of communities, encouraging them to stay in school as long as possible. One such center opened earlier this year, offering English to students so they have a better chance to be accepted into, and then do well in, secondary school.

The programs that Efra leads are focused on women in particular.

The Improving Women’s Health program: This initiative trained 33 women on basic health education. They are equipped with small, portable projectors loaded with Swahili-language videos, which are now shown to thousands of people monthly. “They are educating their fellow villagers how to prevent communicable diseases and live a healthy life with available resources in their areas,” Efra said.

Beyond Gender-Based Violence program: Ten groups of 10 women, each who have experienced violence from spouses or relatives, participated in counseling for two years. They are now emerging as entrepreneurs leading their own businesses.

Community–Hospital Alliance program: This program centers on the Maasai community, connecting them with health facilities. Most Maasai live in remote areas of the region. Thirty-four Maasai women are now trained as community health workers, providing basic health care in their villages and referring to the closest hospital if needed.

Earlier this year, every single one of the 100 women who are part of the Beyond Gender-Based Violence program gathered together. They were there for further training and to celebrate their transformation from victims to entrepreneurs. The women now run businesses, producing and selling reusable menstrual pads, liquid soap, and fabric. The two-day event was held for many reasons, but a highlight was payment for the sale of their products. For many, it was the first time they had earned income of their very own.

With singing and dancing, they celebrated Efra’s leadership. The women lifted her high into the air in appreciation.

“One big challenge is that for ages, women in Africa have been seen as weak, voiceless, dependent, and less important,” Efra said. “Now things are changing and many women are coming out and expressing their interest in being economically independent.

“But still there are some who live under the shadow of fear. As an organization and as a team, we are still educating them and letting them know that if others can do things and make changes in their life, they can too. This is a process and it needs time to change. We believe that through women, we can change the whole community.”

And one more note about Efra’s father. “I have met Efra’s father several times and he is very proud of her,” Jeff Carithers said. “I have a feeling he was proud of her, even as a child.”

To learn more about Empower Tanzania, visit empowertz.org. Photos by Jennie Peakin.

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Daniel 12:1-3

The Time of the End

1“Now at that time Michael, the great prince who stands guard over the sons of your people, will arise. And there will be a time of distress such as never occurred since there was a nation until that time; and at that time your people, everyone who is found written in the book, will be rescued.2“Many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt.3“Those who have insight will shine brightly like the brightness of the expanse of heaven, and those who lead the many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.

Psalm 16

1Preserve me, O God, for I take refuge in You.

2I said to the LORD, “You are my Lord;

I have no good besides You.”

3As for the saints who are in the earth,

They are the majestic ones in whom is all my delight.

4The sorrows of those who have bartered for another god will be multiplied;

I shall not pour out their drink offerings of blood,

Nor will I take their names upon my lips.

5The LORD is the portion of my inheritance and my cup;

You support my lot.

6The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places;

Indeed, my heritage is beautiful to me.

7I will bless the LORD who has counseled me;

Indeed, my mind instructs me in the night.

8I have set the LORD continually before me;

Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.

9Therefore my heart is glad and my glory rejoices;

My flesh also will dwell securely.

10For You will not abandon my soul to Sheol;

Nor will You allow Your Holy One to undergo decay.

11You will make known to me the path of life;

In Your presence is fullness of joy;

In Your right hand there are pleasures forever.

Hebrews 10:11-25

11Every priest stands daily ministering and offering time after time the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins;12but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, SAT DOWN AT THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD,13waiting from that time onward UNTIL HISENEMIES BE MADE A FOOTSTOOL FOR HIS FEET.14For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.15And the Holy Spirit also testifies to us; for after saying,





He then says,



18Now where there is forgiveness of these things, there is no longer any offering for sin.

A New and Living Way

19Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus,20by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh,21and since we have a great priest over the house of God,22let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.23Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful;24and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds,25not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.

Christ or Judgment

Mark 13:1-8

Things to Come

1As He was going out of the temple, one of His disciples *said to Him, “Teacher, behold what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings!”2And Jesus said to him, “Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone will be left upon another which will not be torn down.”

3As He was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew were questioning Him privately,4“Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign when all these things are going to be fulfilled?”5And Jesus began to say to them, “See to it that no one misleads you.6“Many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am He!’ and will mislead many.7“When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be frightened; those things must take place; but that is not yet the end.8“For nation will rise up against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be earthquakes in various places; there will also be famines. These things are merely the beginning of birth pangs.

Daniel 7:9-14

9“I kept looking

Until thrones were set up,

And the Ancient of Days took His seat;

His vesture was like white snow

And the hair of His head like pure wool.

His throne was ablaze with flames,

Its wheels were a burning fire.

10“A river of fire was flowing

And coming out from before Him;

Thousands upon thousands were attending Him,

And myriads upon myriads were standing before Him;

The court sat,

And the books were opened.

11“Then I kept looking because of the sound of the boastful words which the horn was speaking; I kept looking until the beast was slain, and its body was destroyed and given to the burning fire.12“As for the rest of the beasts, their dominion was taken away, but an extension of life was granted to them for an appointed period of time.

The Son of Man Presented

13“I kept looking in the night visions,

And behold, with the clouds of heaven

One like a Son of Man was coming,

And He came up to the Ancient of Days

And was presented before Him.

14“And to Him was given dominion,

Glory and a kingdom,

That all the peoples, nations and men of every language

Might serve Him.

His dominion is an everlasting dominion

Which will not pass away;

And His kingdom is one

Which will not be destroyed.

The Vision Interpreted

Psalm 93

1The LORD reigns, He is clothed with majesty;

The LORD has clothed and girded Himself with strength;

Indeed, the world is firmly established, it will not be moved.

2Your throne is established from of old;

You are from everlasting.

3The floods have lifted up, O LORD,

The floods have lifted up their voice,

The floods lift up their pounding waves.

4More than the sounds of many waters,

Than the mighty breakers of the sea,

The LORD on high is mighty.

5Your testimonies are fully confirmed;

Holiness befits Your house,

O LORD, forevermore.

Revelation 1:-4-8

John 18:33-37

33Therefore Pilate entered again into the Praetorium, and summoned Jesus and said to Him, “Are You the King of the Jews?”34Jesus answered, “Are you saying this on your own initiative, or did others tell you about Me?”35Pilate answered, “I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests delivered You to me; what have You done?”36Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm.”37Therefore Pilate said to Him, “So You are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.”